Flying Kiwis will keep you up to date on the endeavours of New Zealand sports folk overseas. Not the battlers, mind you, but the genuine overlooked and underappreciated superstars that for some ridiculous reason don’t get a look in on local media.
Chris Wood – Leicester City (English Championship)
The Foxes had won 6 home games in a row, but lost this week to Nottingham Forest. Obviously because Wood was unavailable (what with All Whites duty and all). It’s a shame, since Wood seemed to have barged his way back into the starting lineup. Manager Nigel Pearson was definitely upset about it. Both Burnley and QPR drew, so Leicester didn’t lose much ground in the standings, holding on to second spot and automatic promotion as it stands. The good news is that Woody is fit and playing well, with a goal in each of his last two starts. He’ll be a key player against the Hombres.
Up Next: You’re kidding right?
Tommy Smith – Ipswich Town (English Championship)
Smith was unavailable for his game too, as clubs were forced to release players required for international duty according to head honchos at the FIFA Death Star. They were up against it defensively without their best centre half, but on attack they came through, with subs Frank Nouble and Paul Taylor scoring and striker Daryl Murphy bagging a stoppage time winner (after opponents Blackpool had equalised in the 88th). There’s no European footy next week at all. Bigger fish to fry.
Up Next: Come on, you know what’s up next
Marco Rojas – VfB Stuttgart (Bundesliga)
No Marco for Stuttgart, but he has been included in the All Whites squad, so he’s at least back in action. He may well have been toiling away in the reserves for a couple weeks, but what with the German and the language and the Google Translate (…and the glayvin!) it’s hard to tell. That doesn’t seem likely though, as he has only recently returned to full training. His 90 minute prospects vs Mexico are as unlikely as a Leo Bertos hat-trick (and almost as unlikely as a successful Bertos cross). For the record, Stutters won 3-1 and moved up to 8th on the Bundesliga table.
Up Next: Seriously?
Winston Reid – West Ham United (English Premier League)
West Ham lost 3-1 to Norwich, so clearly Reid didn’t play. We’ve all heard about his injury, which rules him out of the All Whites’ two playoffs vs Mexico. He damaged his ankle in training midweek, and the early word is that he could be out up to a couple months, though scans will confirm or deny this. First up, this isn’t Fat Sam pulling a sneaky one on NZ Football. Reid’s injury is of no advantage to West Ham at all. In fact, they are worse off than anyone from this (except Reid himself), losing their best player so far this season. And without him they didn’t look up to much vs Norwich.
So how do the All Whites cover him? Well Tommy Smith has been in good form for Ipswich. And thankfully Andrew Durante has pulled a Nathan Fien (minus Granny Gate) and switched his allegiance to the brighter side of the Tasman. Umm, Vicelich could play at the back too, but then we need him in the midfield... There’s not really any way to sugar coat this, Reid’s loss is a crushing blow to our hopes. He’s the captain of this team, and the best player playing at the highest level. A country like New Zealand simply cannot replace a guy of his stature. Ricky Herbert probably can’t be expected to switch up his formation, so there is the very real danger that Ben Sigmund gets the call up – a frightening prospect for the heart rates of kiwi fans.
Up Next: OK – Thursday morning, 9am. Mexico vs New Zealand at the Azteca Stadium. FIFA World Cup Qualifying Playoff. It’s kind of a big deal.